Friday, February 18, 2011

The American Fairy Tale

Written to a Facebook "friend" who doesn't like unions and who believes that anyone can find and keep the job they want, and never fear dismissal, as long as they work hard.

Here's what I wrote:

For the last 3 1/2 years, I have been involved in union organizing for LAX hotel workers. Good and decent human beings, employed for years, never missing a day, but living on a less than living wage, with shoddy benefits, and maybe no benefits at all. You and I couldn't come close to living on their wages, dealing with insults and humiliation every day, fired if they get sick, fired if they complain, fired if they support a union, fired at will, and they have no recourse. This story is repeated across the Unites States, and would be far worse were it not for unions helping this nation build a strong and prosperous middle class, the backbone of democracy.

Your comments about choice simply don't wash in the world that I see here for thousands of LAX hotel workers and millions around the nation.

Much of what you say feels more like the American fairy tale nourished by sentimental writers and religionists, and, of course, the wealthy and the privileged who have bamboozled millions of Americans into believing that their middle class life is threatened by the very forces that created the middle class life in the first place.

American biz has been dedicated to union-busting. It's a terrible story, to be sure.

I lived in West Virginia and learned there the stories of the mines.

I lived in Pittsburgh, and learned there the stories of the steel mills.

I lived in Detroit, and learned there the stories of the big factories.

Without unions, there would be no middle class, and no choice, and no fairy tales - we would be an oligarchy, not a great nation.

But our greatness has come under attack, not from unions and the middle class, but from the giant corps and the privileged and right-wing religious reactionaries who despise democracy and who hate the middle class for taking too much money out of the system.

I'd like to know more about your values, and how they came to be. You sound like a lone-ranger kind of person - everyone for themselves, and to the winner, goes the spoils. I guess if you're a winner, it's a good world.

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